Over the past few weeks, students taking the path around Queen Anne’s Residence Hall may have noticed the orange fencing redirecting walkways adjacent to St. John’s Pond. Work is being done in that area to restore the creek shoreline which has been slowly eroding for years.
In an Inside SMCM announcement, Capital Projects Manager James McGuire stated that “the project involves the placement of stone out in the water and filling in back to the bank with soils suitable for plant growth. We will be planting 8750 [square feet] of alterniflora and 2250 [square feet] of spartina patens. These plants will provide shore stabilization as well as habitat for the ducks and geese that frequent the area.”
This project is linked to the spraying of invasive phragmites in the waterways adjacent to Route 5, which is helping to prepare for the construction of a new sidewalk which will extend from College Drive to the North Fields. At the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 26, 2018, Vice President of Business and Finance Paul Pusecker stated that the goal of the project is “to provide a safe alternative to the current practice of walking in the northbound traffic lane on Route 5. The path would include a wooden bridge, ‘boardwalk’ as we’re calling it, across the pond, and a brick path.” Construction on the new path is slated to start in April. Pusecker told The Point News via email that “ Because the boardwalk will disturb some plant species closest to the edge of Route 5, the Maryland Department of Environment is requiring us build a ‘living shoreline’ along the north side of St John’s pond, closest to Queen Ann dorm.”
Director of the Physical Plant Annie Angueira also spoke about the phragmite control project, saying that “we’ve already started to manage [phragmite] growth… We are obligated to spray for 5 years. Our hope is after 5 years of spraying that we’ve eradicated the majority of it, the reality is eventually we’ll have to go back and spray some more.” After being asked if the phragmites were an invasive species, Angueira said “just look down any creek or river in MD and you’re going to find these phragmites growing all over the place. So now they’re pushing for the eradication of that.”
The project, which was approved by the Maryland Department of the Environment, requires that the College restore wetland shorelines elsewhere to make up for the disruption caused by removing the invasive phragmites. The application of pesticides to the invasive phragmites requires licensed applicators to ensure that no damage is being done to sensitive flora and fauna in the wetland ecosystem. Angueira stated that the College has hired a private contractor to perform the herbicide application to ensure that proper protocol is followed.
Construction on the living shoreline began in the first week of February, and is expected to conclude in the second week of March. McGuire also noted that students interested in learning more about living shorelines can take a free study course at livingshorelinesacademy.org, and can direct any questions about the project to his office at 240-895-2105.